Our game of tag lasted for another twenty minutes or so before Elva finally tired and wanted to pick flowers instead. Susie sat with her, teaching her how to make a flower crown with her gathered collection. Mark stood nearby, watchful.
Nicholas and I sat in the grass a few yards off. I’d been pleased when he chose to sit beside me. I felt like there was much regarding his conversation with Julian that he had been keeping from me.
He was relaxed, resting back on his elbows with his long legs stretched out in front of him. His typically perfectly styled hair was a bit windswept from running.
He looked perfect and comfortable, and in another life, I would have stretched out alongside him and buried my face into his neck.
Now, I maintained my careful distance.
I teased, “I hope you were too tough on Julian.”
At once, I regretted the words. The softness in Nicholas’s face hardened. He pushed himself into sitting
“He’s still in one piece, don’t worry,” he said gruffly.
I tried to quickly think of a different topic of conversation. The weather, perhaps? It was pleasant today.
“You must care for Julian deeply,” Nicholas said, causing my thoughts to stutter.
Did Julian’s lies truly work on Nicholas as well?
I knew I should probably correct him, but I wasn’t sure. Julian had said we should keep the truth from Nicholas. Maybe this lie was an extension of that. I wanted to protect him.
But this felt too far. It didn’t seem right.
“I wouldn’t say it’s all that deep,” I said, trying to reveal just enough truth without entirely showing my
hand. I hated lying. I really wasn’t built for the deception Julian wanted.
“Oh, no?” Nicholas raised a brow, acting casual. But his grip on his knee had tightened, giving him away.
I didn’t know why he cared so much about this. He’d already told Julian, flat out, that he was not jealous.
Yet he was acting for all the world like a man who was
I must have been imagining it. But I still wanted to put him at ease.
T’m not serious about Prince Julian,” I admitted. “We’ve had our dates, but they don’t mean anything.
He loosened the death grip he had on his knees, and nodded. He didn’t say he was relieved, but I could
see it in the way his features smoothed out.
For a time, we silently watched as Elva worked on a flower crown. It fell apart almost instantly, but with
Susie’s gentle encouragement, she began again.
And in that time, I felt a sense of peace. I still felt loss from the gain and absence of my wolf, but to have
felt it, even for a fleeting moment, gave me a sense of comfort. I had thought it totally lost. Yet it was still
out there calling to me
Julian had tracked it down once. I had to believe he could do so again. Next time, I wouldn’t let it get
“Have you thought about Linda’s deal?” Nicholas asked me.
My pleasant mood instantly shifted, sinking down. “You mean, her blackmail?”
Of course I wanted to keep my previous relationship with Nicholas a secret, since the King had made threats against my life if it were to be exposed. But that wasn’t the only reason.
Tmtorn,” I said want to make sure I can stay for Elva’s sake. If I’m disqualified” or worse, “-who
will happen to her. But, at the same time, I hate the thought of you forced to be with
someone for my sake”
Don’t worry about me. I’ll do whatever it takes to help Elva stay healthy and happy.
He glanced at me, golden eyes warm in the sunlight. I felt like there was more to what he was saying. beyond just his words, but we’d spent too much time apart. I couldn’t read him as easily as I used to
Len so, the words at face value were still enough to make me melt. Nicholas wanted to protect Elva. most as if she was his own. I almost couldn’t believe my good fortune, in having such a kind man in my fe, in whatever capacity I had him.